The trip across the Cook Strait, between New Zealand’s North and South Islands, is one of the most iconic ferry routes in the world. The 3 hour journey offers beautiful views of Wellington harbour, along with the breath taking scenery of Queen Charlotte Sound. On a clear day you can see both islands along with views of the Kaikoura Ranges and even the Southern Alps. Dolphins, seals and wales are often spotted in the water, alongside albatross and other seabirds.
The Cook Strait is named after James Cook - the first European to sail through it in 1779 - but according to Maori legend it was first discovered by an explorer called Kupe, who canoed through it while hunting a giant octopus. Nowadays the Interislander Ferry travels the 92 kilometres from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South Island, and vice versus, 11 times a day. It has viewing decks, cafes and bars, along with children’s play areas and WiFi.
Other ferry routes we recommend are across the Foveaux strait to Stewart Island. Stewart Island is New Zealand’s third largest island and is part of the Rakiura National Park. During the one hour crossing keep an eye out for seals, dolphins and seabirds.
As for day trips, try the ferry ride over to Waiheke Island for wine tasting, or to the Tiritiri Matangi Sanctuary for wildlife, or the volcanic island of Rangitoto for hiking.
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